Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 40.djvu/167

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Nose,’ ‘Nose Almighty,’ and ‘The Town-bull of Ely.’ Nedham's journal, says Wood, ‘being very witty, satirical against the presbyterians, and full of loyalty, made him known to and admired by the bravadoes and wits of those times.’ The government sought to suppress it, and Richard Lownes, its printer, was committed to prison by the House of Commons on 16 Oct. 1647 (Commons' Journals, v. 335). Nedham was obliged to leave London, and for a time lay concealed in the house of Dr. Peter Heylyn [q. v.] at Minster Lovel in Oxfordshire (Wood, iii. 1181). In June 1649 he was caught and committed to Newgate, but was discharged three months later (14 Nov.) on taking the ‘engagement’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649–50, pp. 537, 554). According to Wood, Speaker Lenthall and John Bradshaw saved his life, procured his pardon, and engaged him to adopt the cause of the Commonwealth. The first fruit of his conversion was the publication, on 8 May 1650, of ‘The Case of the Commonwealth of England stated: or the equity, utility, and necessity of a submission to the present Government cleared, out of Monuments both Sacred and Civil … With a Discourse of the Excellency of a Free State above a Kingly Government.’ In his address ‘To the Reader’ Nedham boldly begins: ‘Perhaps thou art of an opinion contrary to what is here written; I confess that for a time I myself was so too, till some causes made me reflect with an impartial eye upon the affairs of the new government.’ For this thoroughgoing and cynical vindication of the government, the council of state voted Nedham a gift of 50l., and ordered him for the future a pension of 100l. a year, ‘whereby he may be enabled to subsist while he endeavours the service of the Commonwealth’ (24 May 1650; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 14).

Nedham next undertook the editorship of a new weekly paper, entitled ‘Mercurius Politicus,’ the first number of which was published on 13 June 1650. ‘Now appeared in print,’ writes Heath, ‘as the weekly champion of the new Commonwealth, and to bespatter the King with the basest of scurrilous raillery, one Marchamount Needham, under the name of Politicus, transcendently gifted in opprobrious and treasonable droll, and hired therefore by Bradshaw to act the second part to his starched and more solemn treason; who began his first diurnal with an invective against Monarchy and the Presbyterian Scotch Kirk, and ended it with an Hosanna to Oliver Cromwell’ (Chronicle, ed. 1663, p. 492; cf. The Character of Mercurius Politicus, 1650, 4to). The most characteristic feature of ‘Mercurius Politicus’ was the leading article, sometimes a commentary on the situation of public affairs, sometimes a short treatise on political principles in general, which was frequently continued from number to number. Milton was charged, from about March 1651, with the general supervision and censorship of ‘Mercurius Politicus,’ and Professor Masson suggests that certain passages in these leading articles may have been written or inspired by him (Life of Milton, iv. 324–35).

The government also employed Nedham's pen in connection with its foreign policy. On 14 Oct. 1650 he was instructed ‘to put into Latin the treatise he wrote in answer to a Spanish piece written in defence of the murderers of Mr. Ascham’ (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1650, p. 387). On 10 Feb. 1653 he was voted 200l. ‘for his great labour in translating Mr. Selden's “Mare Clausum”’ (ib. 1652–3, p. 486). Cromwell continued Nedham's pension, and maintained him as editor of ‘Mercurius Politicus.’ To this he added also the editorship of the ‘Public Intelligencer,’ an official journal of the same nature as the ‘Mercurius Politicus,’ but published on Mondays instead of Thursdays (Masson, iv. 52).

Nedham was also conspicuous as a champion of the Protector's ecclesiastical policy. He attended the meetings of the fifth-monarchy men at Blackfriars, and reported to the Protector the hostile sermons of Christopher Feake [q. v.] and other leaders of that sect (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1653–4, 303, 393; cf. Thurloe, iii. 483). When John Goodwin [q. v.] attacked the Triers, Nedham took up their defence, and treated Goodwin with his usual scurrility (Hanbury, Historical Memorials relating to the Independents, iii. 432). Goodwin retorted by describing Nedham as having ‘a foul mouth, which Satan hath opened against the truth and mind of God,’ and as being ‘a person of an infamous and unclean character’ (Triumviri, 1658, Preface). The charge against Nedham's morals was also repeated in a defence of Goodwin, entitled ‘A Letter of Address to the Protector,’ by a writer styling himself D. F. (4to, 1657, p. 3). After Cromwell's death these attacks redoubled. Nedham was denounced as ‘a lying, railing Rabshakeh, and defamer of the Lord's people.’ His removal from all public employment was demanded. ‘They that like him, or are like to him, will say: “He is a man of parts, and hath a notable vein of writing.” Doubtless so hath the Devil; … must therefore the Devil … be made use of?’ (A Second Narrative of the Late Parliament, 1658, p. 37; A True Catalogue of the Places